Imam & family return home, thanks to pilot

Imam & family return home, thanks to pilot. (Photo: KUTV)

(KUTV) A religious leader finally returned home with his family Sunday, after being detained by the U.S. Government for almost a week.

"For five years, I waited for my family, to bring them home," said Imam Yussuf Abdi, who has legally lived in Utah since 2005.

The US citizen traveled to Kenya to bring his wife and five children home to Salt Lake City. He said he had the legally required documentation to bring them back.

After days of delays, Abdi found out he was on the 'No Fly List.'

"My name is there, but I did not do anything. I don't have any crime. I have been devoted every day and night to help the community," said Imam Abdi.

Gadeir Abbas with Center for American-Islamic Relations said, "Really what the 'no fly list' has become a putative tool that the FBI use to harass Muslim religious leaders or other Muslims and in some cases to coheres them into becoming informants or forgo their constitutional rights."

Abbas did not know how Abdi's name got on the list, but said the process was not transparent. He said it takes one anonymous agent to report a suspicious person to the 'No Fly List' and a second agent to confirm it, which happens in 98.96 percent of reports.

A group of lawyers worked together and were finally able to get the whole family home to Utah in time for Fathers Day and for the end of Ramadan, one of the most important religious times for Muslims.

"His community was excited to see him after believing that he may not come back," said Lena Masri with CAIR, a national organization that helped Abdi get home.

Abdi tried to board a plane from LAX to SLC three times before he was finally able to make it home. He thanked the American Airlines pilot for helping them finally arrive.

"The pilot American Airlines he says I will not leave today until I take this family," Abdi said.

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